In the silent opening of Heritage a young man looks through a pair of coin-operated binoculars, zooming in on the town below. It is a maneouvre that offers a hint of the tale to come, which will ultimately zero in on the lives of three Koreans, each from a different generation. Lee Jong-su’s debut feature is an unhurried affair whose bone-dry comedic elements gradually make themselves felt in a meandering narrative that gains traction as it goes along. The film’s droll attitude towards the interplay between the generations coupled with some stylistic flourishes from Lee could be its passport to further festival play.
The northern Indian city of Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges, has been a recurring muse for filmmaker Rajesh S. Jala. After profiling various aspects of the holy city, which has a central place in Hindu traditions of pilgramage, death and mourning, in documentaries like Cradle By The Stream,the award-winningChildren Of The Pyre and At The Stairs, Jala returns to it in hybrid feature The Spark,which follows a fictional filmmaker encountering real-life inhabitants of Varanasi.There is, however, little creative glow to be found here.
A Japanese film about love with something of a French touch, Akira Yamamoto’s third feature struggles to extract a meaningful story from a rather airless mise en scene, despite a directorial eye, and script, that are not short on visual and narrative ideas. Indulgently long, After the Fever begins well but soon drifts into a slow waltz of amorous angst and frustration that all but the most patient audiences will find it difficult to respond to.
Near the beginning of this rich, engaging, funny, touching saga about a year in the life of a family who run a rural Korean tofu factory, it seems as if an early setback – when they shockingly run out of the ‘soft and silky’ variety of tofu – is going to be about as bad as it gets for the three-generational clan at the heart of the story. They bicker and snap at each other, but the bonds of affection are obvious. Yet in his convincing debut debut feature, writer-director Oh Jung-min starts to send ripples of disturbance through the narrative, gradually turning a light story for local audiences with into something more resonant and universal.